I’ve been here before … a city shut down; daily lives disrupted and uncertainty about the future.
Just as life here in Christchurch had started to resemble something like ‘normal’ we’re buffeted by winds of change – thrown again by something beyond our control, only this time the whole world is involved. This very moment I’m looking at choppy waters in the port; watching the masts of yachts in the marina wrestling to stay vertical; and wondering how the plants in my garden are going to survive. The weather has patterned itself to my inner turmoil but I know it will settle.
Resilience became our catch phrase through the devastating earthquakes. Through hugely stressful times we learned to let go of what was and find creative ways to adjust to the times.
I didn’t just survive though or passively ‘endure’ the difficulties. I chose to embrace them as my teacher – to learn new things about myself, my surrounds and my community.
There happened a complete ‘reset’ of who I was; what was important to me … and I came out the other side all the better for it. And able to calmly face bowel cancer surgery and then a heart attack and a number of other personal issues and family challenges. The reality is: other life doesn’t go on hold amongst the disasters.
The following helped me, and I’ll be referring to this again :
- Limit access to the news (there’s a difference between keeping informed and being saturated in negativity)
- Read about topics on anything other than disaster
- Actively look for beauty in the moment – I took my camera out with me searching for little pockets of colour and irony amongst the earthquake debris. (The feature image was taken during one of these forays). But there were a myriad of simpler choices too – closely examining the detail of a flower; playing calming music; enjoying the feel of cool breeze on bare skin. Really appreciate that there’s nowhere else at this time to be.
- Plan loosely for the day ahead – a routine – but with greatly lowered expectations on how much can be achieved in that 24 hour period
- Establish some simple, regular, feel-good ’rituals’. I always put lipstick on regardless of what is happening during the day; hubby and I regularly have coffee and do the cryptic crossword together
- Sleep as much as my body tells me it needs
- Exercise regularly – somehow, anyhow. I taught myself to hula hoop … it took patience but I had the time, and it was fun
- Be kind to others – extend extra grace to them for their foibles
- Enquire of others – even strangers – “how are you doing?” and stop to LISTEN to their response
- In Christchurch we handed out hugs like candy … in this situation it feels really odd that we have to keep distance so I’ll be miming a hug
- Be not ashamed to openly admit ‘I’m finding this difficult’ but don’t wallow in it – consciously find a distraction
- Connect with nature … I’ll be out in my garden but will also be looking at pictures online
- Simplify everything possible e.g. meals, projects
- List those tasks and projects that have been neglected for want of time – start the doing and crossing them off that list
- Decide on how to reach out to others. Since my heart attack I have to protect myself from major physical and emotional stressors but I’m sure there will be small tasks I can do for others – letter writing to the elderly who are really isolated, small deliveries etc
Of course your circumstances, needs and personality may be quite different from mine; and I’m not in any way wanting to sound patronising. Times are tough but I hope this helps encourage others to come up with constructive ways to manage the next little while and we might come out the other end stronger for it.